This article is only recommended for those with a felt need to know about aspects of pedophilia and its extent. The detail is more graphic than most lightworkers will want to encounter.
An image of a child cries out for justice
Kathryn Holmquist, Irish Times, Sat, Oct 19, 2002, 01:00
An international group met in Dublin this week to find ways of tackling paedophiles, writes Kathryn Holmquist
A CD packed with images of children being sexually abused was found in Castlerea Prison on Wednesday. On Thursday, a convicted paedophile continued his challenge through the High Court, arguing that he should not have to comply with the Sex Offenders Register and give his address to the Garda. On Friday morning, a group representing victims of clerical sexual abuse – the rape of children, in other words – called for Cardinal Desmond Connell to resign over his handling of allegations about priests having forced sex with children.
Also during the week, in the Central Criminal Court, Justice Carney stopped viewing a video recording made by a man facing rape and child pornography charges, showing his activities with one of his victims, saying: “I cannot watch any more of this.” The offender was jailed for life.
Paedophilia is widespread. Yet most of us haven’t a clue what it involves. And that includes officers of the law, members of Government and the public. Words such as “paedophilia” and “child pornography” seem inadequate to describe the rape of children.
At a meeting of the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children at the European Commission offices in Dublin on Wednesday, Glyn Morgan of Europol gave an impassioned presentation.
He said officers in Europol’s terrorism unit had the leisure to play cricket in the halls of their headquarters in the Netherlands, while the guys in the drugs unit couldn’t be described as overworked.
At least that’s how Morgan, first officer in charge of the specialist analysis for the crimes against persons unit in Europol saw it. Units combating drugs and terrorism had plenty of resources, while the small unit devoted to catching paedophiles was underfunded.
Morgan hadn’t the staff or resources even to begin to rescue the children he saw being raped in the shocking images his unit was downloading from the Internet. So, 18 months ago, he gathered the guys in terrorism and drugs and showed them a picture.
It is of a six-year-old blonde, curly haired girl. She is naked apart from a black, steel-studded dog collar around her neck. She is lying on a flowered duvet on a bed and has crossed her little arms in front of her face, to hide the anguish, pain and bewilderment in her eyes. She could be your child. Her grimacing mouth tells you that she wants to die rather experience what is happening to her.
This is the kind of image you never want to see, because if you do you will never forget it. Seeing such images, you feel as if your own child self is being abused. These images are so horrendous, that even as a journalist I cannot tell you what they contain because to do so would be irresponsible. But I have seen plenty of them, because since I started writing about this area, I have been inundated with graphic e-mails depicting the rape of children and swamped by treatises on the value of adult-child sex.
Paedophiles know that downloading an image is illegal, which is one of the reasons why they send these e-mails. One of the world’s most effective anti-paedophilia campaigners, Max Taylor of University College, Cork, says he is similarly inundated with child pornography. The fact that people like him are harassed in this way is part of the paedophilia syndrome. People who like having sex with children want to boast about their crimes.
In the offices of the European Commission, members of the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children are watching each other’s shocked faces as we see the image of the little, blonde girl. The members include Eve Branson, Richard Branson’s mother a former US deputy attorney general and other prominent US members of the centre. Also there is the former head of the Paedophilia Unit at Scotland Yard, accompanied by officers in the unit, such as Steve Dixon, who featured in the BBC’s recent documentary series on paedophilia.
The group includes Terry Jones of the Greater Manchester Police Department, and Prof Max Taylor of UCC. The pair won an international award last week for their campaign to break Internet paedophile rings. We also have Hamish McCulloch, who co-ordinated the “Wonderland” investigation, the first project to arrest paedophiles as they were logged on to the Internet on a real-time basis across several time zones.
We are sickened by the image of the girl, which is typical of the kind of image that paedophiles are stimulated by. They enjoy the power that the Internet gives them. They brag to each other of their exploits. Fathers of two-year-olds write lengthy essays on their power to rape their own daughters.
When Morgan showed his colleagues the image of the six-year-old being raped, they rallied around him. He instantly got more staff and resources.
“It focuses your mind,” says Morgan. One year later, the Shadowz Brotherhood was broken in seven EU member-states, leading to 14 arrests, 42 raids and three suicides. The average sentence given to those arrested was two years.
At the meeting of the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children in Dublin, everyone in the room shares the burden that every day spent dealing with child pornography is a day too long.
Frustration that too little is being done to rescue the victims makes the crusade ever more challenging. As Cormac Callanan, chairman of the Irish Internet Providers Associ-ation and director of INHOPE (Internet Hotline Providers in Europe), says: “Despite all the hard work, time, energy, resources and committed people, the problem just gets bigger.”
Morgan sums up the feeling of the meeting when he says, “I have found it difficult to enjoy working in this field. It is certainly challenging, and an eye-opener, but it hasn’t been easy.”
The personal cost is high. Most of the people in the room have children of their own. A member of the Garda Síochána’s paedophile unit, who was part of the Operation Amethyst team that visited the premises of 100 people whose PCs or credit cards were used to download images of children being sexually abused, confides that when his family go on holiday, he cannot let his wife change the children into their swimsuits on the beach. He knows too well that paedophiles relish the chance to see such innocent scenes.
The anger and frustration of the delegates becomes palpable in support of what John Haskins, deputy chairman of the Government’s Internet Advisory Board says.
“We can feel as emotional as we do and be absolutely committed, but the reality at the end of the day is that we are fighting for political resources and there is no major world commitment to this agenda,” he argues. There has never been a greater level of agreement on anything than there is to our abhorrence of the horror of child pornography, yet “this is not being translated into political will. And without political will you do not get the resources for anything.”
There is an instant reaction from Mary Banotti, MEP, chairman of the meeting, who suggests that members of the Government should be brought to Max Taylor’s unit in Cork, where they can see child pornography for themselves.
“Most people do not know what we are talking about. The images I saw made me sick. There is a gap in political understanding. The Minister for Justice needs to go down to UCC in Cork and see what they are actually dealing with. It’s going to take that level of understanding before things start to move.”
After Haskins and Banotti speak, the delegates of country after country express their frustration. A policewoman from Poland describes how parents in her country sell their children to paedophiles for photography sessions. A police officer from Interpol tells of how maids in Zimbabwe gain the trust of wealthy families, then when the parents leave the house, bring in paedophiles and film crews to abuse children and record the crimes for sale on the Internet.
Hamish McCulloch asserts that victim identification should be the aim of everyone working in the area. Then a Garda representative confides that resources do not allow victim identification to be a priority. They cannot focus on identifying victims at this time.
Police officers from all over Europe talk about inadequate funding and inconsistent legislation among countries, which makes their jobs almost impossible. There are 800,000 police officers in the US, yet only 300 are trained in handling paedophile cases. Experts in analysis and profiling describe paedophiles as so ingenious that they find new ways of subverting legislation.
In the US, where most of the images of children being raped are produced, the Supreme Court has given paedophiles a modus operandi for avoiding the law. The court has differentiated between photographs of identifiable children, and photographs which have been subtly manipulated to add one child’s face to another’s body.
By using digital technology, paedophiles can create images which are not deemed to be “real”, even though the child sexually abused in the image is a real child.
Internet paedophiles tend to be young and relatively wealthy with high degrees of technological sophistication. While Interpol, Europol, Max Taylor in Cork, Terry Jones in Manchester and others have been battling for five years to stop paedophile activity, the paedophiles have been using the technology for 20 years and are far more sophisticated. They are security-conscious and able to hide their sites in the backrooms of Internet Service Providers, who claim to have no idea what is going on.
Max Taylor believes that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and credit card companies should be made liable for the use to which their facilities are put by paedophiles.
Credit card companies and ISPs argue that they are like phone lines. If an obscene call is made, do you blame the phone line? Such foggy ethical questions create an environment, says the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children, in which the only winners are the paedophiles.